Orange County’s Best Beaches
A beach is typically a flat landform that borders a body of water. It typically consists of coarse particles, like sand, pebbles, shingles, or stones. The smaller particles of a beach can sometimes be biodegradable in nature, including shells or pieces of coral and other bits of igneous rocks, but generally the most prevalent mineral in all beaches is quartz. Its composition is identical to granite, and many beaches are also named with related minerals (e.g., “stone beach”). The quartz that dominates the composition of most beaches consists of several thousands of tiny crystals. Because of the large number of crystals, the quartz is very smooth, so it does not wear away quickly when the sand moves, giving it a long lifespan.
When a beach is formed in an ocean or sea, there may be millions of pieces of fine sand and gravel attached to it. These different particles are often wriggled around a current of water, which adds to its weight. As it carries this load around the ocean bed, some of the fine grains of sand and gravel remain above the ocean’s surface. Some of these grains eventually become larger and bump into the deeper layers of the ocean. The vertical movement of the layers causes the beach to be lifted off the sea floor, while the horizontal movement keeps the beach on the surface. The horizontal movement makes a beach less likely to erode more quickly than a vertical beach, since the heavier materials are lifted off the beach by the rising tide.
Ocean Beach, Long Beach, and Orange County Beach Management District each lists public beaches along certain sections of their properties. State beach management agencies and local parks services also post beaches. For example, Long Beach’s Beach Concierge Center has a map showing the locations of all State Beach Resorts. This allows you to find a beach that is open for public use, but also allows you to know which beaches may have potential hazard zones associated with them.
Some State beaches, such as those in California, may not be suitable for swimming due to strong surf. However, most State beaches offer picnic areas and other facilities where you can relax, sunbathe, or play in the sand. In Orange County, public access is restricted to designated beaches, which are generally white sand beaches with shallow depths. Beaches may also be designated for special events or use by specific groups. For example, the Lake Sycamore State Reserve has a marked beach area for state park campers, fishermen, or boaters.
Coastal areas have more potential for erosion because of the large volume of ocean beach debris. Severe storms can even move larger amounts of sand or debris from one shore to another. Larger surf waves can knock out smaller white sand beaches. Storms may also wash larger beach debris into the water, causing erosion at more vulnerable coastal areas.
Ocean beaches are typically low-lying, sandy beaches that offer limited shade and protection from wind and surf. The majority of ocean beaches have no lifeguard coverage or protection, so swimming is usually the only activity allowed on these beaches. Pink Sand State Park is one example of an ocean beach with very low tide and excellent beach conditions. Other popular ocean beaches include Long Beach in Southern California and Ocean Beach in Palm Desert, California.
Orange County also has a number of unique beach types based on the pH levels of its soil. When the soil is alkaline, sand grows best and white sand beaches form. However, if the soil is acidic, then grass develops and at the southern end of the strand, gray sand beaches form. In addition, certain types of sea grass grow on alkaline orange county beaches, while other vegetation also grows on grey sand beaches in Orange County.
Finally, the most saline and hot water-producing beaches are typically found in Northern California and the interior of Los Angeles. Orange County is not an exception to this rule. At Beverly Beach, for example, there is a black sand beach, while a white sand beach at Corona Del Mar is considered by many to be the most southerly beach in Orange County. Orange County’s climate makes it possible for almost any beach to be used for recreational swimming, water sports, surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, or just lying on the beach and being a tourist.